Child with special needs and guardian playing on a beach.

Person-Centered Planning

Person-center planning helps individuals with disabilities direct their own lives — with options to plan housing, work, finances and more. Here are some questions and answers that can help you better understand person-centered planning, how it can help and how you might fit into the process.

What is person-centered planning?

Person-centered planning:

  • Brings the individual together with a team of family, friends, neighbors, employers, community members and healthcare professionals to find out what is important to the person with the disability, now and in the future
  • Matches the wants and needs of a person with a disability to existing services, adapts existing services to better suit the person or creates new services if required
  • Gives people with disabilities and their families more control over services and the direction of their lives
  • Helps people with disabilities accomplish their goals and fit in and contribute to society in a personalized way, rather than passively accepting services based solely on their diagnosis and condition
  • Finds ways for the person with the disability to develop the skills and abilities needed to work toward achieving his or her goals and having more control in his or her life

What are the benefits of person-centered planning?

The benefits of person-centered planning:

 

  • Focuses on the person with the disabilities, not the planner
  • Focuses on the person's strengths, not deficits
  • Helps alleviate isolation, stigmatizing labels, loss of opportunity and loss of hope

What are some basic planning objectives?

Person-centered planning aims to help the person with disabilities do the following:

 

  • Live in the community
  • Choose his or her own services and housing
  • Develop his or her own skills and interests
  • Be treated with respect
  • Find a valued social role
  • Find meaningful independent relationships

Who makes up the planning team?

  • An unbiased facilitator: Facilitators encourage brainstorming during the meeting and help identify friends, family or professionals that can help keep the plan on track.
  • Advocates: Disability service advocates can help find resources, discuss options, help with evaluating plans and services, and assist the person with the disability become a self-advocate.
  • Family members and friends: Immediate and extended family members and close friends can weigh options and help with informed decision making.

How do you build a team of advocates?

  • Exceptional Family Member Program: Your installation Exceptional Family Member Program family support office and Military OneSource can assist with finding person-centered planning facilitators and resources. Although facilitators and related resources will most likely come with a fee, a consultation with your installation Exceptional Family Member Program or Military OneSource is free. Call 800-342-9647 to speak with a consultant.
  • State-Provided Resources: State-provided adult services specialists may be available in some states. You can search for programs and organizations providing advocacy at Disability.gov by entering "advocate" and your state.
  • University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities: A Center for Excellence is another great resource for finding person-centered planning facilitators. To locate a center in your state, visit the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities website.

How can you help?

The more you know about how you fit into the planning process, the more you can help meet the goals of the person with the disability. To assist with planning, it's useful to become familiar with some of the following:

  • Preparation: An Internet search for "person-centered planning tool kit" should provide resources to help you prepare for the planning meeting.
  • Organization: Get organized with the Special Care Organizational Record for an adult family member with special health care needs.
  • Disability services and rights: People with disabilities have certain rights under the law.
  • Many benefits are available for people with disabilities. Visit Disability.gov to find out what Social Security benefits, medical services, employment, housing, transportation, respite care and other forms of assistance are available at the federal level. The site also has links to state benefits.

Military OneSource special needs consultants can answer your questions and concerns about the care and education of your child or adult family member with special needs. Call us at 800-342-9647.